It is our last and one of the sweetest places our yatra took us to. Gurudeva and Trichyswami had a special bond, and Gurudeva stayed here often, so we are keeping a fond relationship alive.
The yogis and I are greeted by Sri Sri Jeyendrapuri Swami, Trichyswami's amazing successor who continues his guru's mission with great enthusiasm and knowhow. We hand a small gift to Swamiji and ask him to bless the new yogis as they embark on an initial two-year retreat. Swami is interrupted numerous times and many families come and go, bringing offerings, news of a marriage or just there to touch his feet. The CEO of TATA (no relationship with TAKA) is there, visiting to help plan a new solar field here at the ashram.
Swami speaks to the yogis about the importance of the guru and the need to surrender all preferences before him and accept any and all instructions he may give. It is a long upadesha ruch in meaning for the yogis, with emphasis on nivritti and pravritti paths.
Off Swami takes us to the Rajarejeswari Temple and into a new mandapam near the recently build Rajagopuram. A homa is underway with elaborate Agamic pujas and Vedic mandalas. We learn this is the first of the annual 11-day Brahmotsava, and Swami smiles as we discover this important fact of our arrival. "You didn't know. And you didn't plan. Very auspicious."
Swami asks me to say a few words to the many devotees attending the homa, and then he offers a complete outline of the many ceremonies that are planned in the days ahead.
We are taken to a nearby protected area where a young swami is making Vedic mandalas, and told by Sabhishwara Sivacharya, "This is the exact spot where Gurudeva chipped the first stone for Iraivan Temple. I was there that day. Several of us here were there."
Lunch follows and a visit to the sadhana caves that Swami has built here, seven private rooms made to look like rock caves where people go for silence and solace, opting to enter for 1 to 30 days. There are locks on the door, but they are on the OUTSIDE! Meals are served through a little window. We enter and see the simplicity that humanity is capable of. (Yogi made a short movie that take you inside the cave where a swami is staying.)
We tour the garden in the rain. Not an ordinary rain. A thunderous rain that came of a sudden as the puja climaxed, a serious downpour that, Swami tells us, "has not happened at this time of year in 20 years." He is so delighted with the rain, which will fill the ashram water reservoirs, that he ushers us out into the garden, getting soaked and stopping for a 15 minute meditation in his pyramid.
The day ends with a very private rite taken from the Agamas. It is the harvesting of soil into which tomorrow seeds will be sown, to be sprouted by the final day and thus bring abundance to the earth. For this we go to a tiny corner, almost a storeroom, where 20 Sivacharyas and their students are gathered to bring vitality to the soils and the seeds. It seems so ancient, so earthy and holy to be with them.
We retire early to rise at 4am for our drive to the airport. Singapore, here we come!